Congratulations to Cody Janak and Kendall Kristynik who received this year's scholarships sponsored by the Polka Lovers Klub of America Texas Chapter I. Each received $500 to help with expenses as they set out on their college adventures.
Cody Janak of Victoria graduated from St. Joseph High School and is the son of Chris and Stephanie Janak and the grandson of PoLK of A members Henry and Carolyn Janak of Yoakum. Cody will be attending Texas A&M at College Station, majoring in Mechanical Engineering. Afterwards he plans to continue his education by seeking an MBA or law degree.
In addition to his outstanding academic and athletic achievements, he supported his community and church as a teen leader during activities like blood drives, Women’s Crisis Center fundraisers, ACTS Religious Retreats and nine years as an Altar Server. Cody is a three-year member of the National Honor Society and has worked as a sod-grass layer, fiber optic technician and performed farmer-rancher duties at his grandparent’s farm where he also learned to can pickles, make sausage and bake kolaches.
He claims that his dedication to hard work, outgoing attitude and friendly personality, which he inherited from his parents and grandparents, has successfully gotten him this far in life. And, the fact that he loves to dance has not been a hindrance in any way.
Polkbeat asked Cody:
Earliest memory of a polka dance: When I was 5 years old. I had just learned how to dance, and I was asking every lady around me to dance. I was on a roll, but after nine or 10 dances, I was turned down. I was heartbroken and decided I was done for the night, so I went to sleep on one of the tables at the dance hall.
Polka tunes on your MP3 player: I do not have any polka songs on my iPod, but I do listen to the Yoakum/Hallettsville radio station during the polka hour when I am at my grandparents.
Favorite polka: Out Behind the Barn and Shut Up and Drink Your Beer.
Favorite polka band: Red Ravens.
How to get more young people to come to polka dances: By advertising on social media and providing food. Because all kids enjoy the Internet and food!
Kendall graduated from Moulton High School and is the daughter of PoLK of A members Kenneth and Mary Kristynik. Kenneth plays accordion for Red Ravens. Kendall will be attending Texas Lutheran University in Seguin, with a goal of obtaining a degree in the field of medicine.
Besides being the valedictorian of her graduating class and homecoming queen, Kendall has been active in Student Council, 4-H, the Lavaca County Council and the Bata Club, holding multiple offices in each of these organizations. She has served as her class president during each of her high school years and has been on the All-A Honor Roll since first grade.
She supported fundraisers for the Driscoll Children’s Hospital, American Cancer Society and the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church while working with organizations or the elderly and supporting work efforts to “Keep Moulton Beautiful.”
Kendall’s goal in life is to be 100% happy – and she says that since life can throw unexpected curve balls, it is her intent to live life in a way that she will have no regrets, be able to laugh often and love deeply.
Polkbeat asked Kendall:
Earliest memory of a polka dance: When I was three or so. My dad played every weekend, sometimes twice, and I went along every chance I could. I remember going to Mustang Hall between Yoakum and Hallettsville and helping my mom sell tickets. When she wasn't looking I would go out on the floor and do what I loved - dance.
Polka tunes on your MP3 player: Absolutely. Polka is in constant mix. As much as I love Texas Country/ Red Dirt music, when I hear my dad's accordion through my headphones, I can't help but smile and be in a good mood.
Favorite polka: Looking, Looking Polka by the Red Ravens. At my graduation in May, my class did a montage as our class song. Everyone picked a song that meant something to them, and mine was the Looking, Looking Polka. Everyone's face just lit up. It was amazing.
Favorite polka band: The Red Ravens, by default and because my dad is an avid polkabeat reader, I am bound to this answer. :) However, I grew up with the Dujka Brothers, the Vrazels, and Fritz Hodde, so all are at the top of my list.
How to get more young people to come to polka dances: Going to polka dances isn't something that you can force. Polka is a way of life, and if they don't love it, then a person isn't going to do it. Polka is sometimes viewed as something that "old people" do, so teens feel that they are "too cool" to polka. What we can do is keep playing polka music, and there is no doubt that people of all ages will continue to embrace this amazing way of life. Stay Strong and Polka On!